Canadian gov't convenes secret net-tapping inquiry

A reader writes, "The Canadian government has launched a private consultation on new rules that would require Internet service providers to hand over a wide range of subscriber information without a court order. The new rules would cover cell phone data, email addresses, and IP addresses. The government has not made the consultation public nor identified who it is consulting."
That said, this is an important issue and I believe that the government should hear from all interested stakeholders, not a hand-picked, secret group. In the consultation, Public Safety claims that "law enforcement agencies have been experiencing difficulties in consistently obtaining basic CNA information from telecommunications service providers. In the absence of explicit legislation, a variety of practices exists among TSPs with respect to the release of basic customer information, e.g. name, address, telephone number, or their Internet equivalents." After identifying what it considers CNA data (including cell phone identifiers, email addresses, and IP addresses), the departments propose a series of safeguards including limits on who would have access to the information, limited uses of the information, and internal audits on the use of these powers.

It is extremely disappointing to see that the departments continue to believe that ISPs should be required to hand over potentially sensitive personal information without a court order or other judicial oversight. Moreover, the claim that law enforcement has faced "difficulties" in obtaining CNA data remains completely unsubstantiated (to the extent that some ISPs ask for a court order, this reflects an appropriate balance that Parliament established when it enacted PIPEDA).




  1. So, who do we talk to within the government to help make sure they make an informed decision? Who can we call and pester?

  2. This goes beyond the usual thoughtless bureaucratic bumbing in Ottawa and smells a lot like Stephen harper’s nose after a visit with his pal King George. There’s a lot this self proclaimed “new government” of Canada is doing behind closed doors, creating fait accompli policies that never get aired in public debate or parliamentary votes.

    Thanks to Michael Geist for bringing this out in the open. Call your elected representatives and get them to keep shining a light on this one.


  3. Where have I seen this kind of thing before? Hmm…wait, it will come to me….

    Oh yeah: in the US! Hundreds of years of jurisprudence being flushed in closed door meetings against the will of the people.

  4. I find this especially funny in light of Canadian musings on the legality of Google Street View. Big, obvious cameras taking video of anything already visible from the road is an invasion of privacy, but Mounties reading your dirty IMs to parliament is perfectly kosher. Right.

  5. And parliament isn’t in session until October 18 because Harper delayed it by a month. So there’ll be no Question Period for the opposition parties to call the Conservatives on it. Coincidence?

  6. Gotcha! Now that they’ve been caught out, Stockwell Day’s office claims they’re going to make the consultation documents public tomorrow, and that the hitherto secret deadline for submissions will be extended. Thanks a lot.

    What else are they up to in areas that don’t have someone like Michael Geist keeping an eye on them?

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